Chauncey DeVega

Martin Luther King warned about people like Trump and his ilk — and knew how to respond to their crimes

Time is broken in the Age of Trump. The ability to distort reality is one of fascism's greatest powers. World-historical events are collapsed down into a few days or weeks. Perspective is lost.

Over the course of two weeks, the American people experienced an attempted fascist coup by Donald Trump and then his subsequent impeachment for inciting insurrection. On Inauguration Day, two weeks after Trump's supporters overran the U.S. Capitol building, Joe Biden will finally become president of the United States of America.

This essay is being published on Monday, Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is now two days before Inauguration and five days after Trump's impeachment. These days feel like years.

Dr. King was martyred by a white supremacist assassin in 1968. More than 50 years later, white supremacists with their Confederate flags, Nazi tattoos and T-shirts and other symbols of hate, attacked the U.S. Capitol with lethal results. Once again, we are reminded that white supremacy and the color line are a type of changing same in America.

The forces of white supremacy and American Apartheid that Dr. King fought against those decades ago were never fully exorcised or vanquished.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a civic holiday in America, one when the country celebrates its own belief (which is really a comforting lie) that it transcended racism and white supremacy through the blood sacrifice of one man and the other (acceptable) heroes of the civil rights movement.

Dr. King's civic holiday has its obligatory rituals. There will be the documentaries and other films and movies about his life and the civil rights movement. Famous people will offer words of wisdom. There will be disappointment. There will be hope. There will be marches and gatherings — made even more poignant and surreal by life in a time of plague.

And on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021, the juxtaposition of Donald Trump's ignominy with King's moral vision and life of sacrifice will be almost impossible to ignore.

One of the obligatory public rituals on this day is the summoning of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" Speech, which is often misrepresented and willfully distorted.

In the (white) American popular imagination, King's dream of racial equality and real democracy are understood as being something accomplished with the civil rights movement in the 1960s. In reality, he was speaking of a time in the future. More than 50 years later, America has not yet arrived at such a place.

The failure to achieve King's dream looms over the rage-filled faces of Trump's mob and its assault on the U.S. Capitol — along with everything else that horrible scene tells us about America in the Age of Trump.

For example, the Trumpists had nooses and also a huge cross. These are symbols of White Christian nationalist hatred and violence. In his landmark book "The Cross and the Lynching Tree," theologian James Cone described the power and history of such symbols and beliefs:

"In the lynching era," between 1880 to 1940, white Christians lynched nearly five thousand Black men and women in a manner with obvious echoes of the Roman crucifixion of Jesus. Yet these "Christians" did not see the irony or contradiction in their actions.

Echoing Cone, Carey Wallace writes in her new essay for Time Magazine, "White American Christianity Needs to Be Honest About Its History of White Supremacy": "You cannot cure cancer by pretending it is not there. The white American church can't pretend that the mob at the Capitol is not part of us. It is us."

This may seem counterintuitive to some, but in fact these celebrations of white privilege, white supremacy and white power cause harm to white people as well. Umair Haque writes at Eudaimonia:

In other words, the failed coup only marks the beginning of a new pattern of violence. What do the fascists then attack? All the institutions of civil society. They blow up courtrooms. They hold politicians hostage. They assassinate judges. They kidnap intellectuals. They invade schools. They occupy local governments. Society endures a wave of terrorism after failed coup attempts like the one America just had.
A failed coup is a kind of phase transition. It is like a glacier melting or an ocean boiling. It signals the beginning of a new phase in a society's story. … Terrorism of all kinds usually ensues, from, again, assassinations to bombings to kidnappings and so on. …
That is, I think, what is beginning to happen in America. These fascists have been normalised by white American culture for so long — seen as something like cute little pit bull attack dogs — that those very white Americans failed to see the danger they were in. The hounds of ruin and chaos were about to turn on the family which bred them, oblivious to their wild appetites. Fascists are not cute little house pets — which is what white American culture made them out to be, when, for example, the NYT profiled neo-Nazis as friendly neighbours next door, when Jake Tapper had Nazis on his show to "debate" with (hey, is exterminating my whole kind of people a matter of debate? Oh, cool!!), when Richard Spencer was portrayed as a dashing, handsome rogue, when Steve Bannon was glamorised as a cool, soi-disant genius of a worldly philosopher. White American culture made this monster. And the monster has now turned on it.

To paraphrase the civil rights leader, martyr and icon Malcolm X, the chickens are coming home to roost in America.

As has been true for centuries in America, it is Black and brown Americans who will be tasked with the responsibility of picking up the mess left behind by White America. After Trump's mob and other rabble rampaged throughout the U.S. Capitol, Black and brown janitors and maintenance workers put things back together again.

Martin Luther King Jr. was killed on April 4, 1968, fighting for the rights of sanitation workers in Memphis.

On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2021, his words and legacy will be abused and distorted in grievous ways.

Republicans, Trumpists, and other members of the right-wing will claim, as always, that Dr. King would want "peace" and "unity" and "coming together" and "forgiveness" after Donald Trump's white supremacist coup attempt. Trump's apologists will also likely claim that King would demand national "healing."

These lies will be enabled by Black conservative mouthpieces and other professional racism deniers and nonwhite agents of white supremacy.

But the real Dr. King, the radical truth-telling Dr. King, the man who was one of the most unpopular people in America at the time of his martyrdom, believed in substantive justice. That type of justice does not come without hard work and sacrifice and making whole those people who were done wrong. In total, true healing is never possible without doing the hard work to make it so.

To that point, the real Dr. King believed that true justice for Black people in America necessitated reparations for slavery and generations of stolen wealth, income, labor, freedom and lives. The real Dr. King was also a democratic socialist who was committed to creating a true "We the People" democracy and humane society in America and around the world.

The real Dr. King would demand that substantive justice be done and that Donald Trump, his coup plotters, enablers and foot soldiers, and those others who participated in a lethal attack on the Capitol be held accountable. Such an outcome is not vengeance; it is justice.

Dr. King, who was a product of the Black Christian prophetic tradition of resistance and love and social justice, said this: "Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning."

He also said, "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."

As the crimes of the Age of Trump are investigated and punishments meted out, the American people would be wise to heed Dr. King's wisdom. We have ignored it far too long.

'Mentally disturbed' Trump will only become more dangerous as he struggles to tolerate reality: psychiatrist

Last Wednesday, thousands of Donald Trump's white supremacist supporters, at his de facto command, launched an assault on the U.S. Capitol with the goal of stopping Joe Biden from becoming the next president. While investigations are ongoing, some people in the mob may have planned to kidnap or assassinate members of Congress they consider "traitors," along with Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the ceremonial count of the electoral votes. Trump's fascist mob was well equipped for the task, as some of their members were armed with guns and other weapons, and clad in paramilitary gear.

Five people have now died during and after the Capitol attack. Dozens more were injured. This Trump-inspired uprising is likely not over and may be in its early stages. There are credible reports by the FBI and other American law enforcement agencies that right-wing paramilitaries and other domestic terrorists are planning even more violence across the country in the days leading to Biden's inauguration next week. This attack was not an isolated event: The entire Age of Trump has been typified by right-wing violence. When Trump finally leaves office, the right-wing violence he has enabled and permitted may only get worse.

On Wednesday, by a vote of 232 to 197, Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for a second time, on this occasion for "incitement of insurrection." All 222 Democrats (along with 10 Republicans) voted to impeach, while four Republicans abstained. Trump is now the only president to have been impeached twice, and clearly rivals only Andrew Johnson or James Buchanan for the shameful distinction of being the worst president in American history.

Instead of being cowed by the violence at the U.S. Capitol and his second impeachment, Trump, like other autocrats and fascists, appears even more desperate and emboldened. On Tuesday, during a visit to his "border wall" in Texas, Donald Trump warned the Democrats and the American people that there will be consequences — implying more violence by his followers — for his impeachment or removal. Trump then claimed the Democrats were causing the country "tremendous anger, and division and pain," another example of stochastic terrorism aimed at inciting violence by his political cult members against their shared "enemies".

Under pressure from Republican leaders and his remaining White House advisers, Donald Trump released a video on Wednesday evening in which he "condemned" political violence and claimed that his "true supporters" would never engage in such behavior. This is patently insincere: From the beginning of his 2016 campaign, Trump has encouraged political violence by his followers and other cult members. Moreover, during the assault on the Capitol Trump was reportedly gleeful and excited.

Ultimately, the disaster that is Trump's presidency did not need to happen. It was all a choice.

Those Americans who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 (and in even larger numbers in 2020) are responsible.

The Republican Party, which embraced Donald Trump and his vile anti-democracy movement, is responsible.

A news media which normalized Trump's fascist and authoritarian white supremacist regime are responsible.

Those who denied the obvious warnings about Trump's coup attempt — and who mocked or tried to silence the people who were trying to warn the public — are responsible.

Writing at the Atlantic, Tom Nichols locates the disaster of Trump's presidency and America's national peril as a moment comparable to the Cuban missile crisis or the darkest moments of Nixon's presidency:

We can't keep hoping for the best or relying on those not in charge to keep Trump in line. Even one day more is too long for him to be in the White House. We escaped disaster over just a few days in 1962 and in the dark of an autumn night in 1973. Peace was kept, in part, by the presence of steady professionals such as Schlesinger and the Kennedy team, the likes of whom are nowhere to be found in Trump's Washington.

We no longer have a margin for error. A second impeachment is the only reliable solution, and it should take place immediately.

The disaster that Nichols describes could have also been prevented if warnings from many leading mental health professionals had been listened to and then acted upon. Since at least 2015, they have sounded the alarm and tried to educate the public about Donald Trump's pathologies, his malignant narcissism and his psychopathic or sociopathic tendencies.

Dr. Lance Dodes is one such voice. He is a retired assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a training and supervising analyst emeritus at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute.

In our most recent of several conversations, Dodes explains that Trump's coup attempt and other dangerous behavior are a function of the president's obvious mental pathologies, and observes that this disaster was totally and utterly predictable. Dodes warns that Trump believes that he is a godlike figure — and that when that delusion is shattered, Trump will become even more dangerous. At the end of this conversation Dr. Dodes implores the country's leaders to remove Donald Trump as rapidly as possible, noting that if this man were a private citizen he would already be in prison or a secure mental health facility

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

The dominant narrative in the American news media is that Donald Trump is stupid, a crook, a charlatan, a buffoon, etc. Such claims have done the work of minimizing how dangerous he is to the country and the world. While so many tried to deny the likelihood of Trump attempting a coup against the United States, that is exactly what happened. This is the greatest crisis facing this country since the Cuban missile crisis.

I completely agree. Most professionals in mental health have long understood that far from being a buffoon, or the naïve idea that he is "crazy like a fox," he is severely mentally disturbed. Unfortunately, starting in 2016 the official psychological organizations in this country failed to speak out. The American Psychiatric Association actually threatened to throw out those of its members who understood the problem and had the courage to speak up, falsely claiming that speaking out would be unethical. Ironically, this meant that they threatened the most ethical and courageous members of the profession. If they had done their ethical duty to society it would have given the country a chance to save itself from the deaths and suffering of the past four years.

How do you think the mainstream news media has handled Trump's mental health?

Poorly, because many of them saw Trump is just a buffoon, or believed the psychologically ignorant idea that he is just being clever. As a result they didn't recognize they were dealing with a dangerous and delusional psychopath whose endless lies needed to be openly and vigorously challenged. Many in the media covered his every tweet as if it was true. He was yelling at White House journalists saying, "You're fake" from the beginning of his term and it was years before they objected. The reporters should have said, "No, Mr. Trump, you cannot talk to the free press that way." They should have covered his assault on the free press as a major story. The media failed to do their job to protect the country.

If he were a private citizen, how would Donald Trump be treated by law enforcement and other authorities?

At this very moment he would be in jail for having incited a riot. But the multiple other crimes he's committed over many years would have put him in jail years ago. If he were in any other position his complete incompetence dealing with the pandemic would have led him to be removed from any responsible position regarding the health or welfare of Americans.

In terms of mental health, is a diagnosis a type of prediction in terms of future behavior?

That's the most valuable part of making a diagnosis. When Trump was first elected, many hopeful people said, "He's been horrible, but he'll grow into the job." The impossibility of that was easy to predict because of his diagnosis. If a few people in my field hadn't incompetently denied his condition, and if the American Psychiatric Association hadn't tried to gag its members, the public could have been made clearly aware of his diagnosis and been in position to far better understand and deal with him and his behavior.

While the assault on the Capitol was taking place, Trump was reportedly excited and transfixed by the spectacle. This is part of a broader pattern in which Trump has repeatedly shown a fascination or obsession with violence. How does this fit into your warnings about Trump's mental health and behavior?

This man is fundamentally different from virtually all the people that you've ever known. The pain and suffering of others mean nothing to him. It's hard to get that across because we all say, "He must be like us," which is a normal expectation. He is nothing like us. We don't know exactly what's going to happen, but we know that he is going to continue to act on his delusional beliefs and he will continue to have no conscience about what he does to cause suffering to others.

Here is my prediction. Donald Trump does not care if he is impeached or removed from office by the 25th Amendment. Either one serves his goal of declaring that he was betrayed and that there is a plot against him and his supporters. He will declare himself a type of shadow president and cause chaos and destruction. His behavior is only going to bet worse. Trump will not stop seeking revenge on the American people.

Four years ago, we said he was going to get worse. And we're still saying he can only get worse. The closer and closer he gets to being what he would consider a loser, the more dangerous he becomes.

How were you feeling as you watched Trump's coup attack and its aftermath?

It was horrifying and terrifying to see the insurrectionists get into the Capitol building, partly because it was obvious that there was some plot going on; this wasn't just a mob on its own. There was a clear risk of a coup successfully led by Donald Trump. A few years ago, I said on MSNBC that among the risks Trump posed were that he would start a nuclear war, but that there were also other risks: that he would try to create an emergency, declare martial law and dissolve Congress. It's never been a secret that Trump wants to be like Putin or Hitler or Stalin or his friend in North Korea. He wants to be a supreme tyrant, and in his mind that's what he is. Anyone who threatens that delusion is his mortal enemy. If he could have taken over via a coup, he would have.

We can't read the man's mind, but based on his public behavior and the personality type, what do you think his internal monologue is right now?

Trump is a very simple person. He says outwardly, "I am being persecuted" and he says the same thing to himself. His beliefs are not affected by reality.

Donald Trump also has a type of God complex. He is a delusional megalomania. His followers believe him to be a type of God as well. What happens to Trump and his followers when he loses his power?

It would be a sign of greater mental health if Trump were able to become depressed with a loss, because it would mean he has accepted the loss. But as we have repeatedly seen, he cannot tolerate that reality. When he loses power, rather than becoming depressed, he becomes more delusional. He attributes the problem to persecution by his enemies and mercilessly attacks them. That's what the coup attempt was.

The American Psychoanalytic Association, of which you are a member, recently issued a statement of concern regarding Donald Trump's mental health and the safety of the United States and the world. How did this come about?

I'm proud that the American Psychoanalytic Association became the first and so far only major national psychological organization to say that Trump must go. I wish the statement had come out four years ago, but I'm glad they're the first to break away from the self-imposed paralysis of the major psychological organizations. And I hope the country will listen.

What should happen next?

In an ideal world Trump would be voted out today via the 25th Amendment. If he were not president, he would have already been in jail or contained in some safe facility.

Trump's final pivot to terrorism

On Wednesday, hundreds or perhaps thousands of Donald Trump's terrorists assaulted and overran the U.S. Capitol building. The FBI reports that at least two improvised explosive devices were found in the area.

Trump's mob committed these treasonous and seditious acts of terrorism while the Electoral College votes that would formally make Joe Biden the next president of the United States were being counted.

Some of the pro-Trump political thugs were armed. Others displayed white supremacist regalia and symbols, including the Confederate flag and Nazi slogans. At least one member of Trump's terrorist mob was photographed with plastic zip ties, and may have intended to abduct or "arrest" members of Congress. Trump's mob also placed nooses on mannequins and constructed a mock gallows near the Capitol entrance.

Trump's mob of terrorists also looted and defiled the Capitol building, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office and the Senate chambers. Paintings, signs and other memorabilia were vandalized or stolen.

Based on what have seen in Michigan and elsewhere over the last few months — a cabal of Trump's followers plotted to kidnap and likely execute Gretchen Whitmer, that state's Democratic governor — it is entirely likely that some of Trump's terrorists had similar intentions toward targeted members of Congress. Some members of the mob reportedly roamed the Capitol hallways hoping to find Vice President Mike Pence, now seen as a traitor to TrumpWorld even after years of servile loyalty.

The assault on the Capitol building was echoed by Trump's thugs in state capitals and elsewhere across the United States on Wednesday. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (another Republican branded as a traitor by Trump and his followers) was forced to flee the state capitol building. Trumpists also breached the gates surrounding the governor's mansion in Olympia, Washington, and briefly occupied the grounds.

Make no mistake: Trump's terrorists launched their assault on the Capitol with the encouragement and permission of Trump and other leading Republicans, many of whom — even after Wednesday's outrageous spectacle — continued to do Trump's bidding by trying to nullify the 2020 presidential election. Trump's spokespeople and other agents of chaos, sedition and treason, along with the right-wing news media more generally, have also both explicitly and implicitly encouraged such terrorism.

The assault began after a political "rally" near the White House earlier in the day, when Trump, his eldest son Donald Trump Jr., presidential attorney Rudy Giuliani and others tacitly encouraged political violence and a "trial by combat" to nullify Joe Biden's victory and the will of the American people. Five people died as a result of the ensuing assault on the Capitol.

Despite numbering 2,300 officers and having a budget of almost half a billion dollars, the Capitol Police did little to stop Trump's invading horde. Video footage also appears to show law enforcement allowing the pro-Trump mob entry into the Capitol building. Some officers even posed for selfies with Trump's terrorists.

Compared to the overwhelming force that was directed at the George Floyd protests and Trump's attempt to use the military against Americans exercising their constitutional right to protest, the response by law enforcement to Wednesday's insurrection was almost nonexistent. Once law enforcement forces regained control of the interior of the Capitol, Trump's invading terrorists — the vast majority of them white — were allowed to leave and go home without being arrested. In all, the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol was treated like the management of a rowdy crowd at a sporting event or concert, rather than a horde of political terrorists who had committed many serious crimes. It is a small miracle that the assault by Trump's forces and the ineffectual response by law enforcement did not result in the murders of members of Congress or their support staff.

It hardly needs to be said that if Trump's right-wing terrorist mob had been Black or brown, Muslims or antifascists, the Capitol Police and other law enforcement would have used overwhelming and lethal force against them. As on many other occasions, Trumpism and white privilege functioned together on Wednesday as a type of protective shield against personal accountability and responsibility for breaking the law.

Instead of trying to defuse the assault by his terrorist mob, Trump released a video telling the rioters, "We love you. You're very special."

Since Wednesday night, we have heard reports of ongoing discussions among Trump's Cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment and then removing him from office. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer have threatened to impeach him a second time — although not enough time remains in his term to carry out that threat. At this writing, Donald Trump remains president of the United States.

While many observers in the news media and elsewhere are treating Wednesday's coup attempt as something unimaginable or shocking, it was highly predictable and not at all surprising. Trump and his allies, as well as many in the Republican Party and the right wing more generally, have publicly announced their intent to overthrow America's multiracial democracy.

Political scientist Paul Musgrave offered this observation at Foreign Policy:

It's undeniable at this point. The United States is witnessing a coup attempt — a forceful effort to seize power against the legal framework. The president has caused the interruption of the process that would certify his removal from office. The mechanics of constitutional government have been suspended. Americans are in danger of losing constitutional government to a degree unmatched even during the Civil War, a period when secession itself did not postpone either the holding of elections or the transition of power between presidents.
The moment we face as Americans, in other words, compares more closely to the August 1991 coup that attempted to remove President Mikhail Gorbachev from the head of the Soviet Union or the 1993 armed standoff between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian legislature.
Yet right up until this moment a chorus of voices was telling us not to worry.

Trump's ongoing coup and other destruction has also been predicted by the country's leading mental health experts. His public behavior is that of a person who is mentally pathological and likely a sociopath or psychopath. Moreover, Trump leads a political cult whose members are willing to kill and die at his command.

Ultimately, because a powerful leader like Trump gives permission and encouragement for antisocial and other anti-human behavior among the masses, he is the literal and symbolic head of a very sick society, a "pathocracy."

Dr. John Gartner is one voice who has been sounding the alarm about Trump's mental health and the danger he poises to the United States and the world. Gartner is a psychologist, psychoanalyst and former professor at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School and also the founder of Duty to Warn. He was a contributor to the 2017 bestseller "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President" and is featured in the new documentary "Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump."

In this conversation (which took place several days before Wednesday's events), Gartner was almost eerily prescient, warning that Trump is a type of terrorist who will continue to attack American democracy and the American people in search of vengeance for his defeat in the 2020 Election. Gartner explains that because Donald Trump is a sadist, it remains difficult for the news media and the public to comprehend his behavior and the danger it represents.

At the end of this conversation, Gartner offered a prophetic warning: Trump will encourage massive right-wing violence in the streets of America and there will be bombings and bloodshed caused by his terrorist movement.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

How does it feel to be right? You predicted that Donald Trump would be a public menace and existential threat to the country five or so years ago. You have also predicted that he would try to destroy the United States and otherwise sow havoc if he lost the 2020 election.

I felt like some version of Paul Revere, warning that Donald Trump's malignant narcissism is coming. But even for Paul Revere, people would get tired of his warnings. But it seems that we mental health professionals did indeed need to continually remind the public how dangerous Donald Trump truly is.

When I was making predictions that, like Hitler, Trump would engage in a scorched-earth strategy there were people who thought I was being extreme. But at this point it is just a fact. It is happening right now. There is no controversy about it. What we once predicted seemed extreme to many people at the time, but now I hope everybody understands that Trump is a saboteur and that he is trying to destroy our way of life and our democracy.

We could make a list of all of the destructive things that Trump is doing. He is sabotaging the Federal Reserve's ability to respond to financial emergencies. He is also basically fomenting protests in the street. He is fanning the flames of right-wing terrorism and trying to incite people to basically create a civil-war mentality, where people feel like they can engage in acts of sedition and take up arms against the United States government. We see this with the Republican congressmen who feel like they can openly attack democracy. Donald Trump is really trying to destroy the United States at every level.

You warned that Donald Trump would be the greatest bio-terrorist in history because of his negligence and sabotage with regard to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has continued to show his indifference to mass death and suffering in this country. He plays golf while people die. Where is the shock and disgust from the American people? Why was Trump not removed from office for aiding and abetting a type of genocide by way of the pandemic?

I believe in Occam's razor. The simplest explanation is almost always the correct one. The only way to explain how at every stage Trump minimized the dangers of the pandemic, did not take the steps he knew would be helpful to stop it and moreover even did things that encouraged people to spread the virus, is that at some level he was supporting and rooting for the virus.

Donald Trump is actually working as an agent of COVID. He is an agent of chaos. The irony is that he could have ridden the coronavirus to victory. All Trump had to do in order to win re-election was to make a half-hearted attempt to appear that he was making some sort of serious effort to stop the spread of the virus.

But what we must understand about a malignant narcissist is that such personalities would rather tell a lie even when the truth would be sufficient. Such people would rather grift and lie and steal when it would be easier to do an honest day's work. Yes, that is irrationally self-destructive behavior, but malignant narcissists are ultimately always self-destructive. Such people take everyone down with them, which is what Donald Trump is doing. People thought they could ride on Trump's coattails to power and victory and riches. But in the end, it is a deal with the devil.

There is still so much denial about the perilous moment the American people and the world are facing during these last weeks of Trump's presidency. There is this attitude where people default to the belief that Joe Biden will become president and somehow everything will somehow be fine. How do you explain such fanciful thinking?

We do have to worry about the Trumpist cult, which is obviously not going away. In fact, we are going to have a huge spike in right-wing terrorism in this country. There are going to be more incidents such as the Nashville bombing because Trump's cult members are being incited to violence.

Trump's obvious mental pathologies are still largely verboten among the mainstream news media in America. How does that help to normalize the evil of Trump and his movement?

There is a wave of panic, where people start screaming that Trump is actually dangerous and crazy. And then the news media and the public accommodate to that level of dangerousness and craziness from Trump. It is understood and framed as some type of political move or stunt from Trump. The behavior is normalized as people accommodate it. Then there is a new escalation in Trump's behavior and the cycle continues with a new wave of surprise and shock.

All the death from Trump's pandemic has also been normalized as well. The country largely appears numb to mass death at this point.

After Trump's inauguration, I warned that he was a malignant narcissist who would be responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths. I also warned that Trump would have some form of concentration camps. He did that as well. The American people have gotten used to that fact. Now you turn on the television and there is a death counter in the corner of the screen for the pandemic. We have become desensitized to all the deaths. It really is amazing to think that the United States is having a 9/11 death count every day.

Trump is attracted to violence. He enjoys it. For example, he delights in pardoning war criminals. He and Bill Barr accelerated the executions of death row prisoners — which itself was unprecedented for a lame duck president. He has publicly encouraged violence by his followers against their perceived enemies. Why is Donald Trump so obsessed with violence and death?

If a child tortures animals, then we know that he or she is likely going to be a psychopath for life. He or she is a helpless, broken, damaged and dangerous human being. They are so alien to most people, which is why we underestimate their capacity for harm. We expect them to behave more normally than they do. This is why so many people keep getting fooled by such personalities because those who would never do such things cannot imagine the pleasure that Trump would take in chaos, pain and death. Now Donald Trump is punishing and destroying everyone because he has been fired by the American people. It is the abusive-spouse syndrome. The Republicans are firing Trump because they are not fighting hard enough for his coup. Trump is at least, for him, having the pleasure of burning them and everything else down.

Most people cannot imagine being attracted to and delighting in human suffering. What is going on cognitively with a mind such as Donald Trump's?

For such personalities, the behavior is rooted in dominance, which is a basic primitive drive. If you are torturing a person then you are dominant over them.

Remember, Donald Trump is someone who has been accused of serial rape. What is a rapist? A rapist isn't just someone who likes sex. A rapist is someone who enjoys dominating and harming, terrifying and injuring and destroying another person. That's rape. It is like a hobby for him. There are dozens of women who have accused Donald Trump of sexual assault. In the same way we cannot understand rape or torturing animals, most of us cannot understand why a president would want to burn down the country on their way out the door.

Again, this is where malignant narcissism plays a role. It's the psychopathy and it's the sadism and it's the paranoia and it's the narcissism, all coming together.

Sadism is an important component, because sadism means a person gets off on, enjoys and takes perverse glee and pleasure in causing pain. It is not just that Donald Trump is acting out and being destructive, but that he is actually getting a charge out of it. That is very difficult for someone who is not sick and evil in that way to understand.

Several days ago, Trump released a delusional video in which he claimed that countries around the world are grateful for him saving them from the pandemic. Leaders abroad were calling him to offer thanks. What is happening in his mind when he engages in these fantasies? Is he that mentally ill? Does he actually believe any of what he says?

I have been asked that question often during these last four years. I have to admit it is actually a little bit of a mystery to me. I believe that there are times when Trump is delusional. I think there are other times when he is just gaslighting and lying. And then I think there are other times where he is not even sure. Perhaps he convinces himself. For Trump there is a fluidity between delusion and deception at any one given point in time.

There was a recent op-ed in a prominent newspaper suggesting that Trump will just wilt away and disappear once Biden is president. What is your response to such a claim?

That is wishful thinking. We all have the same wish about Trump. But he has a fanatical following, and he is exploiting them and he's not going to stop doing so. The American people and the world are going to be dealing with Trump, unfortunately, long after Jan. 20.

White House insiders have reported that Trump is raging because he was defeated by Biden. He is lashing out at aides and other people in his inner circle. How do you make sense of Trump and his impulses for revenge?

It is bottomless. The analogy would be the abusive partner who in the end kills his spouse or other partner. Trump is that sick and he is that angry. That is one of his traits. Donald Trump never gives up on revenge. He lives for revenge. That is a function of his paranoia: He always feels persecuted and therefore entitled to revenge.

Where does he direct those energies?

Trump seems to be going more and more towards the most extreme right wing. Now Fox News is not right-wing enough for him. He is now focused on Newsmax and OAN. He is going to gravitate towards his hardcore right-wing supporters because there he can manipulate the message more easily. But I'm sure Fox will also continue to oblige.

Trump's going to foment violence. There will be a wave of right-wing terrorism. Trump is whipping up a paramilitary movement. And again, we are going to be desensitized to that as well, to some extent.

I believe Trump will be a type of shadow president and attempt to rule over the country from afar, via his cultists and perhaps even his own TV network. What do you think Trump does on Inauguration Day and beyond?

Donald Trump will try to spoil Joe Biden's inauguration one way or another, as you said. Perhaps there will be counter-programming, which may take the form of Trump claiming that he is the "real president." Trump may have a type of protest inauguration where he announces a presidential run in 2024. Trump is going to do everything he can to be disruptive.

Why are Trump's supporters and other cult members so devoted to him? What about him inspires their willingness to commit acts of violence on his behalf?

These demagogues basically tap into the very primitive prehuman programming in the limbic part of the brain. This is the feeling of "us versus them," the in-group and out-group competition. What these demagogues do is that they take an integrated society and fracture it. We saw this in Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Nazi Germany. These types of leaders make the ethnic majority feel as if they are somehow under threat or being persecuted by an ethnic minority. Therefore, radical steps need to taken to protect themselves from imagined annihilation.

You are going to revere the leader who you think is standing between you and the annihilation of your group. Clearly, Trump's movement is a white power movement. These are people who feel like their grasp on power is slipping away because of the browning of America and because the country is getting younger. The demagogues tap into that anxiety and make it real. Trump does this. As we see in history, a society goes from whatever the bias was against Jews in Germany to death camps.

What do you want the American people to prepare for in these final weeks?

I believe that there will be violence in the streets. There will be violence in the streets of Washington. Trump is encouraging it. Donald Trump and the Republican Party are radicalizing right-wing white terrorists. There will be bombs, there will be guns, there will be deaths.

Donald Trump is a terrorist. If he can't be president, then he will make his force felt through terrorism.

Mental health expert predicted  Trump-fueled 'violence in the streets of Washington -- in an interview last week

On Wednesday, hundreds or perhaps thousands of Donald Trump's terrorists assaulted and overran the U.S. Capitol building. The FBI reports that at least two improvised explosive devices were found in the area.

Trump's mob committed these treasonous and seditious acts of terrorism while the Electoral College votes that would formally make Joe Biden the next president of the United States were being counted.

Some of the pro-Trump political thugs were armed. Others displayed white supremacist regalia and symbols, including the Confederate flag and Nazi slogans. At least one member of Trump's terrorist mob was photographed with plastic zip ties, and may have intended to abduct or "arrest" members of Congress. Trump's mob also placed nooses on mannequins and constructed a mock gallows near the Capitol entrance.

Trump's mob of terrorists also looted and defiled the Capitol building, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office and the Senate chambers. Paintings, signs and other memorabilia were vandalized or stolen.

Based on what have seen in Michigan and elsewhere over the last few months — a cabal of Trump's followers plotted to kidnap and likely execute Gretchen Whitmer, that state's Democratic governor — it is entirely likely that some of Trump's terrorists had similar intentions toward targeted members of Congress. Some members of the mob reportedly roamed the Capitol hallways hoping to find Vice President Mike Pence, now seen as a traitor to TrumpWorld even after years of servile loyalty.

The assault on the Capitol building was echoed by Trump's thugs in state capitals and elsewhere across the United States on Wednesday. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (another Republican branded as a traitor by Trump and his followers) was forced to flee the state capitol building. Trumpists also breached the gates surrounding the governor's mansion in Olympia, Washington, and briefly occupied the grounds.

Make no mistake: Trump's terrorists launched their assault on the Capitol with the encouragement and permission of Trump and other leading Republicans, many of whom — even after Wednesday's outrageous spectacle — continued to do Trump's bidding by trying to nullify the 2020 presidential election. Trump's spokespeople and other agents of chaos, sedition and treason, along with the right-wing news media more generally, have also both explicitly and implicitly encouraged such terrorism.

The assault began after a political "rally" near the White House earlier in the day, when Trump, his eldest son Donald Trump Jr., presidential attorney Rudy Giuliani and others tacitly encouraged political violence and a "trial by combat" to nullify Joe Biden's victory and the will of the American people. Five people died as a result of the ensuing assault on the Capitol.

Despite numbering 2,300 officers and having a budget of almost half a billion dollars, the Capitol Police did little to stop Trump's invading horde. Video footage also appears to show law enforcement allowing the pro-Trump mob entry into the Capitol building. Some officers even posed for selfies with Trump's terrorists.

Compared to the overwhelming force that was directed at the George Floyd protests and Trump's attempt to use the military against Americans exercising their constitutional right to protest, the response by law enforcement to Wednesday's insurrection was almost nonexistent. Once law enforcement forces regained control of the interior of the Capitol, Trump's invading terrorists — the vast majority of them white — were allowed to leave and go home without being arrested. In all, the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol was treated like the management of a rowdy crowd at a sporting event or concert, rather than a horde of political terrorists who had committed many serious crimes. It is a small miracle that the assault by Trump's forces and the ineffectual response by law enforcement did not result in the murders of members of Congress or their support staff.

It hardly needs to be said that if Trump's right-wing terrorist mob had been Black or brown, Muslims or antifascists, the Capitol Police and other law enforcement would have used overwhelming and lethal force against them. As on many other occasions, Trumpism and white privilege functioned together on Wednesday as a type of protective shield against personal accountability and responsibility for breaking the law.

Instead of trying to defuse the assault by his terrorist mob, Trump released a video telling the rioters, "We love you. You're very special."

Since Wednesday night, we have heard reports of ongoing discussions among Trump's Cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment and then removing him from office. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer have threatened to impeach him a second time — although not enough time remains in his term to carry out that threat. At this writing, Donald Trump remains president of the United States.

While many observers in the news media and elsewhere are treating Wednesday's coup attempt as something unimaginable or shocking, it was highly predictable and not at all surprising. Trump and his allies, as well as many in the Republican Party and the right wing more generally, have publicly announced their intent to overthrow America's multiracial democracy.

Political scientist Paul Musgrave offered this observation at Foreign Policy:

It's undeniable at this point. The United States is witnessing a coup attempt — a forceful effort to seize power against the legal framework. The president has caused the interruption of the process that would certify his removal from office. The mechanics of constitutional government have been suspended. Americans are in danger of losing constitutional government to a degree unmatched even during the Civil War, a period when secession itself did not postpone either the holding of elections or the transition of power between presidents.
The moment we face as Americans, in other words, compares more closely to the August 1991 coup that attempted to remove President Mikhail Gorbachev from the head of the Soviet Union or the 1993 armed standoff between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian legislature.
Yet right up until this moment a chorus of voices was telling us not to worry.

Trump's ongoing coup and other destruction has also been predicted by the country's leading mental health experts. His public behavior is that of a person who is mentally pathological and likely a sociopath or psychopath. Moreover, Trump leads a political cult whose members are willing to kill and die at his command.

Ultimately, because a powerful leader like Trump gives permission and encouragement for antisocial and other anti-human behavior among the masses, he is the literal and symbolic head of a very sick society, a "pathocracy."

Dr. John Gartner is one voice who has been sounding the alarm about Trump's mental health and the danger he poises to the United States and the world. Gartner is a psychologist, psychoanalyst and former professor at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School and also the founder of Duty to Warn. He was a contributor to the 2017 bestseller "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President" and is featured in the new documentary "Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump."

In this conversation (which took place several days before Wednesday's events), Gartner was almost eerily prescient, warning that Trump is a type of terrorist who will continue to attack American democracy and the American people in search of vengeance for his defeat in the 2020 Election. Gartner explains that because Donald Trump is a sadist, it remains difficult for the news media and the public to comprehend his behavior and the danger it represents.

At the end of this conversation, Gartner offered a prophetic warning: Trump will encourage massive right-wing violence in the streets of America and there will be bombings and bloodshed caused by his terrorist movement.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

How does it feel to be right? You predicted that Donald Trump would be a public menace and existential threat to the country five or so years ago. You have also predicted that he would try to destroy the United States and otherwise sow havoc if he lost the 2020 election.

I felt like some version of Paul Revere, warning that Donald Trump's malignant narcissism is coming. But even for Paul Revere, people would get tired of his warnings. But it seems that we mental health professionals did indeed need to continually remind the public how dangerous Donald Trump truly is.

When I was making predictions that, like Hitler, Trump would engage in a scorched-earth strategy there were people who thought I was being extreme. But at this point it is just a fact. It is happening right now. There is no controversy about it. What we once predicted seemed extreme to many people at the time, but now I hope everybody understands that Trump is a saboteur and that he is trying to destroy our way of life and our democracy.

We could make a list of all of the destructive things that Trump is doing. He is sabotaging the Federal Reserve's ability to respond to financial emergencies. He is also basically fomenting protests in the street. He is fanning the flames of right-wing terrorism and trying to incite people to basically create a civil-war mentality, where people feel like they can engage in acts of sedition and take up arms against the United States government. We see this with the Republican congressmen who feel like they can openly attack democracy. Donald Trump is really trying to destroy the United States at every level.

You warned that Donald Trump would be the greatest bio-terrorist in history because of his negligence and sabotage with regard to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has continued to show his indifference to mass death and suffering in this country. He plays golf while people die. Where is the shock and disgust from the American people? Why was Trump not removed from office for aiding and abetting a type of genocide by way of the pandemic?

I believe in Occam's razor. The simplest explanation is almost always the correct one. The only way to explain how at every stage Trump minimized the dangers of the pandemic, did not take the steps he knew would be helpful to stop it and moreover even did things that encouraged people to spread the virus, is that at some level he was supporting and rooting for the virus.

Donald Trump is actually working as an agent of COVID. He is an agent of chaos. The irony is that he could have ridden the coronavirus to victory. All Trump had to do in order to win re-election was to make a half-hearted attempt to appear that he was making some sort of serious effort to stop the spread of the virus.

But what we must understand about a malignant narcissist is that such personalities would rather tell a lie even when the truth would be sufficient. Such people would rather grift and lie and steal when it would be easier to do an honest day's work. Yes, that is irrationally self-destructive behavior, but malignant narcissists are ultimately always self-destructive. Such people take everyone down with them, which is what Donald Trump is doing. People thought they could ride on Trump's coattails to power and victory and riches. But in the end, it is a deal with the devil.

There is still so much denial about the perilous moment the American people and the world are facing during these last weeks of Trump's presidency. There is this attitude where people default to the belief that Joe Biden will become president and somehow everything will somehow be fine. How do you explain such fanciful thinking?

We do have to worry about the Trumpist cult, which is obviously not going away. In fact, we are going to have a huge spike in right-wing terrorism in this country. There are going to be more incidents such as the Nashville bombing because Trump's cult members are being incited to violence.

Trump's obvious mental pathologies are still largely verboten among the mainstream news media in America. How does that help to normalize the evil of Trump and his movement?

There is a wave of panic, where people start screaming that Trump is actually dangerous and crazy. And then the news media and the public accommodate to that level of dangerousness and craziness from Trump. It is understood and framed as some type of political move or stunt from Trump. The behavior is normalized as people accommodate it. Then there is a new escalation in Trump's behavior and the cycle continues with a new wave of surprise and shock.

All the death from Trump's pandemic has also been normalized as well. The country largely appears numb to mass death at this point.

After Trump's inauguration, I warned that he was a malignant narcissist who would be responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths. I also warned that Trump would have some form of concentration camps. He did that as well. The American people have gotten used to that fact. Now you turn on the television and there is a death counter in the corner of the screen for the pandemic. We have become desensitized to all the deaths. It really is amazing to think that the United States is having a 9/11 death count every day.

Trump is attracted to violence. He enjoys it. For example, he delights in pardoning war criminals. He and Bill Barr accelerated the executions of death row prisoners — which itself was unprecedented for a lame duck president. He has publicly encouraged violence by his followers against their perceived enemies. Why is Donald Trump so obsessed with violence and death?

If a child tortures animals, then we know that he or she is likely going to be a psychopath for life. He or she is a helpless, broken, damaged and dangerous human being. They are so alien to most people, which is why we underestimate their capacity for harm. We expect them to behave more normally than they do. This is why so many people keep getting fooled by such personalities because those who would never do such things cannot imagine the pleasure that Trump would take in chaos, pain and death. Now Donald Trump is punishing and destroying everyone because he has been fired by the American people. It is the abusive-spouse syndrome. The Republicans are firing Trump because they are not fighting hard enough for his coup. Trump is at least, for him, having the pleasure of burning them and everything else down.

Most people cannot imagine being attracted to and delighting in human suffering. What is going on cognitively with a mind such as Donald Trump's?

For such personalities, the behavior is rooted in dominance, which is a basic primitive drive. If you are torturing a person then you are dominant over them.

Remember, Donald Trump is someone who has been accused of serial rape. What is a rapist? A rapist isn't just someone who likes sex. A rapist is someone who enjoys dominating and harming, terrifying and injuring and destroying another person. That's rape. It is like a hobby for him. There are dozens of women who have accused Donald Trump of sexual assault. In the same way we cannot understand rape or torturing animals, most of us cannot understand why a president would want to burn down the country on their way out the door.

Again, this is where malignant narcissism plays a role. It's the psychopathy and it's the sadism and it's the paranoia and it's the narcissism, all coming together.

Sadism is an important component, because sadism means a person gets off on, enjoys and takes perverse glee and pleasure in causing pain. It is not just that Donald Trump is acting out and being destructive, but that he is actually getting a charge out of it. That is very difficult for someone who is not sick and evil in that way to understand.

Several days ago, Trump released a delusional video in which he claimed that countries around the world are grateful for him saving them from the pandemic. Leaders abroad were calling him to offer thanks. What is happening in his mind when he engages in these fantasies? Is he that mentally ill? Does he actually believe any of what he says?

I have been asked that question often during these last four years. I have to admit it is actually a little bit of a mystery to me. I believe that there are times when Trump is delusional. I think there are other times when he is just gaslighting and lying. And then I think there are other times where he is not even sure. Perhaps he convinces himself. For Trump there is a fluidity between delusion and deception at any one given point in time.

There was a recent op-ed in a prominent newspaper suggesting that Trump will just wilt away and disappear once Biden is president. What is your response to such a claim?

That is wishful thinking. We all have the same wish about Trump. But he has a fanatical following, and he is exploiting them and he's not going to stop doing so. The American people and the world are going to be dealing with Trump, unfortunately, long after Jan. 20.

White House insiders have reported that Trump is raging because he was defeated by Biden. He is lashing out at aides and other people in his inner circle. How do you make sense of Trump and his impulses for revenge?

It is bottomless. The analogy would be the abusive partner who in the end kills his spouse or other partner. Trump is that sick and he is that angry. That is one of his traits. Donald Trump never gives up on revenge. He lives for revenge. That is a function of his paranoia: He always feels persecuted and therefore entitled to revenge.

Where does he direct those energies?

Trump seems to be going more and more towards the most extreme right wing. Now Fox News is not right-wing enough for him. He is now focused on Newsmax and OAN. He is going to gravitate towards his hardcore right-wing supporters because there he can manipulate the message more easily. But I'm sure Fox will also continue to oblige.

Trump's going to foment violence. There will be a wave of right-wing terrorism. Trump is whipping up a paramilitary movement. And again, we are going to be desensitized to that as well, to some extent.

I believe Trump will be a type of shadow president and attempt to rule over the country from afar, via his cultists and perhaps even his own TV network. What do you think Trump does on Inauguration Day and beyond?

Donald Trump will try to spoil Joe Biden's inauguration one way or another, as you said. Perhaps there will be counter-programming, which may take the form of Trump claiming that he is the "real president." Trump may have a type of protest inauguration where he announces a presidential run in 2024. Trump is going to do everything he can to be disruptive.

Why are Trump's supporters and other cult members so devoted to him? What about him inspires their willingness to commit acts of violence on his behalf?

These demagogues basically tap into the very primitive prehuman programming in the limbic part of the brain. This is the feeling of "us versus them," the in-group and out-group competition. What these demagogues do is that they take an integrated society and fracture it. We saw this in Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Nazi Germany. These types of leaders make the ethnic majority feel as if they are somehow under threat or being persecuted by an ethnic minority. Therefore, radical steps need to taken to protect themselves from imagined annihilation.

You are going to revere the leader who you think is standing between you and the annihilation of your group. Clearly, Trump's movement is a white power movement. These are people who feel like their grasp on power is slipping away because of the browning of America and because the country is getting younger. The demagogues tap into that anxiety and make it real. Trump does this. As we see in history, a society goes from whatever the bias was against Jews in Germany to death camps.

What do you want the American people to prepare for in these final weeks?

I believe that there will be violence in the streets. There will be violence in the streets of Washington. Trump is encouraging it. Donald Trump and the Republican Party are radicalizing right-wing white terrorists. There will be bombs, there will be guns, there will be deaths.

Donald Trump is a terrorist. If he can't be president, then he will make his force felt through terrorism.

A 'uniquely terrifying situation': Mary Trump breaks down her uncle's desperate attempt to escape being a 'loser'

When it comes to Donald Trump, too many people in the mainstream media and elsewhere have tried to impose complexity onto simplicity. For many such observers there must always be some other explanation for Trump and his movement's anti-democratic behavior and overall evil. Therefore, we must ride the hamster wheel of shock and surprise at each new example of Trump's ignominious behavior.

Why does this happen? It comes from applying old frameworks for understanding politics and presidents onto a man and a movement that have shattered them. Moreover, to admit basic if unpleasant truths about Trump and his movement would be to force an act of critical self-reflection on a mainstream media ecosystem that has largely failed in its responsibilities to hold the powerful accountable during the Age of Trump.

We learned on Sunday that Donald Trump has apparently committed yet another "shocking" crime against democracy and the American people. According to audio recordings acquired by CNN and reported by the Washington Post, Trump spent an hour on the phone with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday, urging Raffensperger "to 'find' votes to overturn the election results," and attacking him "for refusing to falsely say that [Trump] won the election in Georgia."

CNN reports:

"The people of Georgia are angry, the people in the country are angry. And there's nothing wrong with saying that, you know, um, that you've recalculated," Trump said in one part of the call. Raffensperger responded, "Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong."

In another part, Trump said, "So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state."

"You should want to have an accurate election. And you're a Republican," Trump said at one point. ...
The call represents the latest extraordinary effort by Trump to change the results of the race he lost following weeks of legal and political efforts by the President, his legal team and Republican allies to overturn the free and fair election.

No one should act so surprised: This is only Trump's most recent effort to steal a presidential election. In 2016, he made it clear that if lost the election to Hillary Clinton he would not accept the result. Repeated investigations have revealed that Trump and his inner circle eagerly attempted to collude with Russian agents to interfere with the election.

In 2020, Trump continued with the same threats, now amplified by his power as president. He was impeached almost a year ago because he attempted to extort the Ukrainian president into smearing Joe Biden during the 2020 election. A few weeks ago, Donald Trump hosted a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House where a military coup was reportedly discussed as a means of keeping him in power indefinitely. Trump continues to encourage his followers to engage in sedition and treason on his behalf in a last-ditch effort to overturn Joe Biden's election victory.

As Jason Stanley, a Yale professor and the author of "How Fascism Works," summarized on Twitter, "Trump is clearly not just a performative authoritarian. He's the real thing."

Trump, his Republican supporters and other members of the anti-democracy cabal members are correct about one thing regarding the 2020 presidential election: There was in fact voting fraud, but it was and is being committed by them.

Dr. Mary Trump, who is Donald Trump's niece and also a clinical psychologist, has publicly predicted Donald Trump's increasingly dangerous, aberrant and delusional behavior. Her bestselling book "Too Much and Never Enough" chronicles how her uncle came to be the man he is today, and the dire, almost existential threat that he represents to the United States and the world. In this new conversation with Salon, Mary Trump warns that Donald Trump will only become more dangerous as Inauguration Day approaches and he faces the last days of his presidency.

She also suggests that Donald Trump is experiencing a severe psychological crisis because of his deeply pathological fear of "losing," and discusses why he seems so indifferent to the death and suffering caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and how he has a deep contempt for his own followers.

In conclusion, Mary Trump issues a warning: There is no limit to the havoc and destruction her uncle is willing to cause in these final weeks before he is forced from office.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

I had the honor of speaking with the late Dr. Jerrold Post some months ago, before he passed away. He described Donald Trump as being very dangerous and possessing what he termed "dark charisma." In your experience with your uncle, how has this dark charisma manifested itself? Is he that powerful?

I refer to it as "superficial charisma." But Dr. Post and I ultimately mean the same thing. If you are with Donald for more than three minutes, you understand that it is a scam. He is somebody who is superficially charming. There is no substance there.

However, here is the problem: Donald's the weakest person I've ever met in my life. But there are, as it turns out, people who are a great deal weaker than he is. He is a magnet for them. They also see that in their view he has been incredibly successful. He speaks to their grievances in a way I believe no one else ever has in this country. We saw that during his recent rally in Georgia. He said, "We're all victims here." All the thousands of us, including himself! Trump's a victim, too, despite having every privilege possible. He's a "victim." I've never met anybody who felt so sorry for himself, who so felt that he was owed something. But the truth of the matter is that his followers, such as the people at the recent Georgia rally, are his victims. That is what is so maddening.

Does Donald Trump the human being really exist? Or is he just a performer who is lost in the role? Are his followers responding to the human being or to the image and performance?

You're exactly right. Donald does not know who he is because he doesn't have an identity. Donald does not have a core. He is a completely false self. He is somebody — and to me this is a sign of serious psychopathy — who is exactly the same whether he is in front of a crowd of 50,000 people or in a room with his wife or his children, whether he's in a Cabinet meeting or hanging out on the golf course. He is the same person across every circumstance. That is deeply disturbing. Donald is entirely a construct. The question is, what happens when there's nobody watching anymore? He ceases to exist, essentially.

Insiders and others close to Trump have been warning that he is delusional and acting like some type of mad king since his loss to Joe Biden. Given your clinical expertise, what happens to a person like him after suffering such a great defeat? How dangerous will he become?

That is the danger, because he cannot process it. He is not decompensating. People have asked me that since the beginning: "Don't you see that he's deteriorated?" No, he's exactly the same person. I do not need to have seen him in 20 years. Donald is exactly the same person as he was when I was five, when I was 12, when I was writing his book for him, when I saw him in the White House in 2017. The only thing that's changed are the circumstances. Donald's under a level of scrutiny — not enough scrutiny, of course — but at least some scrutiny that he has never experienced before. He's under levels of stress he's never experienced. He's under levels of expectation he's never experienced. The distance between his competencies, such as they are, and what's required for the job are light years apart.

Nobody is going to be able to function at the same level under those changing circumstances. But Donald is the same. Now he is in a uniquely terrifying situation. This is a person who grew up with a father who considered losing the absolute worst thing a person can do. Of course, Donald's never won anything legitimately in his life. However, he's not an ethical person. Winning was more important than anything else, so therefore you did whatever you had to do to win. It didn't matter if it was legitimate or luck. It didn't matter if you lied, cheated, stole, used performance-enhancing drugs, whatever one needs to do to win. You won. That is all that matters.

Donald can't do that now. He is trapped in being a loser for all time. Daddy's money can't buy him out of a loss. My grandfather is not going to drive up to the White House with a briefcase full of electoral college votes. Hard as he might try, this election is not getting overturned because, although sadly it wasn't a landslide, it was a decisive win for Joe Biden. You cannot make up for a 7 million-vote discrepancy. It doesn't mean he's not going to keep trying, though. The more Donald has to acknowledge that he is not going to be able to get the win, the more dangerous he is going to get.

Thousands of people are dying every day now from the pandemic. What is Donald doing? He's giving rallies with people crammed in together, not wearing masks. It's almost like Donald is saying, "See. Fuck you. You rejected me. Fine, I'm going to kill all of you." What is weird is that he is killing his own supporters. It is almost a type of performative omnipotence.

What does Donald Trump really think about his followers?

Donald has nothing but contempt for them. Yet they are all he's got left.

Are there any limits on Donald Trump's behavior and what he is capable of doing during these last few weeks of his presidency?

There are none. What makes it even worse is that it did not have to be this way. But as long as the Republican leadership remains silent and does not call him out and acknowledge the legitimacy of Joe Biden's election win, the more options Donald has.

If the Republicans had come out right away and said, "OK, Biden won. It doesn't matter if Donald concedes or not," that's not to say that Donald would not have done whatever he could to smash everything on the way out. He still would potentially have been selling state secrets or just enriching himself and his family in whatever illicit ways he could figure out, or what have you.

But Donald would not have been destroying our democracy. He needs help to do that. And Donald is only going to get more desperate because it is not just that he lost — which is a narcissistic injury the likes of which I do not think anybody on the planet has ever suffered — it is also what he's staring down the barrel of, with the indictments, lawsuits, bankruptcies and other consequences.

Language is so important here. We have got to stop using the language of "democracy" to talk about Donald, because right now this is not a transition, it is a coup. Who cares if it is failing or incompetent? It is still a coup.

America needs to undergo a real reckoning with itself about the Age of Trump and how this disaster came to be. What would a reckoning and healing look like to you?

We cannot have a reckoning if the government refuses to hold people accountable. The idea that there may not be a truth and reconciliation committee or a crimes commission is unspeakable. How is that possible? There is no one in the United States government for whom that is more necessary than for Donald. It would be good if there was accountability at the federal level. We may have to settle for accountability at the state level.

What advice would you give the American people about these next few weeks so they are not surprised by what Donald Trump may do?

Be on your guard. Be vigilant. Do not take anything for granted. We barely won this battle. We are nowhere near the end of this war. Donald is capable of anything. Don't laugh it off. He's not just some incompetent clown, although he may be, but Donald is not just that. He is somebody who has an extraordinary amount of power. He has an extraordinary amount of latitude. Mock Donald at your peril.

'This is a very dangerous period': Author says Trump is the most 'traitorous' official since the Civil War

More than 400,000 Americans will soon be dead from the coronavirus pandemic, which by some standards could make 2020 the "deadliest year in U.S. history," with a 15% increase in fatalities from 2019.

Public health experts have concluded that the actual number of people killed in the U.S. by the coronavirus is probably much higher. Many more Americans will have shortened lifespans from complications caused either directly by the virus or indirectly by the conditions of the pandemic.

The final year of Donald Trump's presidency has had such a negative impact that U.S. birthrates are predicted to decrease in 2021.

Unless immediate relief is offered millions of Americans may face eviction. More than 10 million Americans are now at least $5,000 behind in rent payments. There are long lines for free food and other essentials in cities and towns across the country, and all regions of America are experiencing near-record levels of unemployment and underemployment.

The country's already threadbare social safety net is about to collapse: In the midst of the holiday season, millions of Americans may not receive their unemployment benefits — perhaps even for several weeks — because of Trump's unconscionable delay in signing the coronavirus relief bill.

By comparison, the very richest individuals and corporations have become even wealthier and more powerful during the pandemic, while average Americans (as well as many small businesses) face financial ruin and deprivation.

Trump has been at his Florida resort since before Christmas, playing golf, sabotaging relief efforts and waging a last-ditch campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Such behavior should not come as a surprise: Many of the country's leading mental health experts have repeatedly warned that Trump is an apparent sociopath or psychopath who does not care if the American people live or die.

Ultimately, it appears that Trump is punishing the American people for voting him out of office.

He has even punished his own party by refusing to sign the coronavirus relief bill until Sunday evening. This delay did not reflect any care or concern for the American people — his demand for larger relief checks is clearly a political stunt — but rather an act of revenge against the Republican Party for failing to publicly support his coup attempt with more enthusiasm and vigor.

At the Guardian, former labor secretary and public policy expert Robert Reich explains the implications of Trump's anti-social and fascistic behavior:

Most of the 74,222,957 Americans who voted to re-elect Donald Trump — 46.8% of the votes cast in the 2020 presidential election — don't hold Trump accountable for what he's done to America.
Their acceptance of Trump's behavior will be his vilest legacy…. The appalling reality is that Trump may get away with it. And in getting away with it he will have changed and degraded the norms governing American presidents. The giant windows he's broken are invitations to a future president to break even more. Nothing will correct this unless or until an overwhelming majority of Americans recognize and condemn what has occurred.

Trumpism has left the United States in a condition where it is a morally and ethically undead country, shambling on by instinct and compulsion with no real direction or vision. President-elect Joe Biden will have to be a type of political sorcerer or exorcist to somehow heal America. Such a task is likely too great for any one person or presidential administration. A society-wide reconstruction project will be necessary.

Fintan O'Toole describes the broken state of America in Trump's last days in a new essay for the Irish Times:

The power of his instinct was that he knew how to tap into a hatred of government that has been barely below the surface of American culture since before the foundation of the US.
That instinct proved sufficiently well attuned that he got nearly 75 million votes in November, even while his malign incompetence was killing his own people. He got those votes, moreover, having made it abundantly clear that he would never accept the result of the election unless he won. They were votes for open autocracy.
This is his legacy: he has successfully led a vast number of voters along the path from hatred of government to contempt for rational deliberation to the inevitable endpoint: disdain for the electoral process itself.
In this end is his new beginning. Stripped of direct power, he will face enormous legal and financial jeopardy. He will have every reason to keep drawing on his greatest asset: his ability to unleash the demons that have always haunted the American experiment — racism, nativism, fear of "the government."
Trump has unfinished business. A republic he wants to destroy still stands. It is, for him, not goodbye but hasta la vista. Instead of waving him off, those who want to rebuild American democracy will have to put a stake through his heart.

As the clock counts down to Inauguration Day, what will Donald Trump do next in his criminal rampage of political revenge and destruction? In search of an answer to this question, I recently spoke with Michael D'Antonio, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the 2016 biography "The Truth About Trump." His forthcoming book (co-written with Peter Eisner) is "High Crimes: The Corruption, Impunity, and Impeachment of Donald Trump."

D'Antonio is also a frequent commentator on CNN. His essays and other writing have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Esquire.

In our conversation, D'Antonio warned that Trump will do anything to stay in power and will accept any help, legal or otherwise, that he believes might enable his ongoing coup attempt to succeed. He also discussed why — with a few notable exceptions — the mainstream news media normalized Trump's presidency for years and refused to warn the public about the dangers presented by Trump and his incipient fascist regime.

Finally, Michael D'Antonio predicted that once Trump is finally deposed on Jan. 20, he will continue to be a looming, menacing presence in American life — perhaps by creating his own TV network and opening a theme park-style temple for his tens of millions of followers.

Donald Trump's coup attempt is ongoing. He recently met with his cabal in the Oval Office where they discussed using the military to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Why is this not the lead story at every news outlet in the country?

What Trump is doing is disgusting. The media's response to what is happening is puzzling. I suspect that the press is on the fence about when to pull the plug on paying attention to him. I do believe that the mainstream press went through a time period where it eventually decided that it had to confront Donald Trump for who and what he really is. In a way, they did cross the Rubicon, so to speak, and started describing him as a liar, and also tried to document what he was really up to.

I think the American press has also communicated that Trump is attempting to subvert the country's democracy and that he has attacked our democratic institutions. The major struggle has been between Trump — who is attempting to overturn an election, and through what is essentially a coup stay in power — and a court system that has so far stopped his coup attempt. But it is not time to take our eyes off the ball yet.

This is a very dangerous period where Trump is not only trying to continue to overturn the election but is also making a great effort to hinder Joe Biden as he comes into office and attempts to restore some sort of normalcy to the country and the presidency. Trump is doing things that no other president has done. I do not believe that we have had a more subversive and traitorous federal official in our history — and certainly since the Civil War. For the American press to ease up and place the scandal of Trump's meeting in the Oval Office, where martial law other parts of a coup plot were discussed, anywhere but on the front page is a mistake.

I've had lots of conversations with people in the mainstream press. They are trying to figure out what is the responsible thing to do in the public interest. But I must ask: Has the American news media served the public interest in the preceding four years?

If what Donald Trump and his agents are doing to subvert democracy were taking place in another country the narrative from the mainstream news media would be totally different.

Yes, if we were watching these events in another country there would be warnings of a coup. The United States ambassador might be raising alarms. The world community might be threatening sanctions. It may be that we are all so eager to put Trump and all that he has done to the country behind us that we are moving too quickly to do so.

There are so many examples of how the mainstream news media has failed in its responsibilities to hold Donald Trump accountable by speaking truth to power about his fascism, his racism and his violent assaults on the country's democratic norms and values. One of the greatest failings has been a refusal to describe Trumpism as a type of political cult. That framework might have helped people understand Trump's enduring power.

Many journalists are isolated. If you are a person who has never attended a Pentecostal church service, or has never known people who were in a cult, or has not tried to understand right-wing Christian evangelicals and the lifestyle that many of those people live, then you are not going to be able to recognize what Donald Trump has been doing. His campaign events and rallies are more like a religious crusade.

For most journalists, this is beyond their experience. It may well be that the separation of the journalistic community from the community of the faithful in conservative evangelical communities perhaps explains the anger felt by the evangelicals. They know that the mainstream press either doesn't get them or doesn't care to get them and may even look down on them. Therefore, when Trump says, "They hate you" and says that the press is "the enemy of the people," he has a ready and receptive audience.

The journalistic imagination of the mainstream media is very limited. Another example is the way they continue to be surprised by Trump's evil and cruelty and other aberrant behavior. Trump has been behaving this way for years in his public life. Why the perpetual surprise? Why do so many public voices keep asking questions about Trump and his movement to which they should already know the answers?

There is a great deal of fear in newsrooms of giving mental health professionals much leeway when discussing someone like Donald Trump. Part of this is a long tradition of hiding behind sourcing, the idea that you always have to have a source make the observation because a journalist is somehow not allowed to do such things.

That is a holdover from the ideal of a certain kind of fairness that came with an assumption that people are operating from some basis of goodwill. There was not any corner of the mainstream media that was prepared to deal with a person as malevolent as Trump, who was not operating out of any commitment to the country or to the oath of office. The press was paralyzed by the enormity of Trump's malevolence. Reporters kept waiting for the moment when they could say, "Oh, see, he is capable of something better. We were right not to declare him depraved." The mainstream news media waited so long for such a moment that now their judgment has become irrelevant.

It was so utterly apparent to anyone who bypassed the news and just watched Trump on television that he was fascistic, that he's a racist, that he's perfectly comfortable fomenting violence if he believes it's in his own interest to do so. Trump broke the minds of the national press. Trump and his behavior exceeded their imaginations. Even when there were mental health experts sounding the alarm from the very beginning about Donald Trump, such as Dr. Bandy Lee and others, the mainstream news media couldn't hear it.

With three weeks or so left until Biden is inaugurated, many journalists and other members of the chattering class are now speaking out against Trump, finally labeling him as a fascist and a white supremacist and a political criminal. But many of these same voices spent the last four years downplaying the threat of Trumpism and saying that those of us sounding the alarm about the danger he represented were exaggerating or hysterical. Now they want to be on the record to protect themselves from history's judgment. Am I being unfair?

There is an element of that. It may even be subconscious. I do believe it is unfair to say that nobody was speaking out about how dangerous Trump is. On the evening news programs, especially, there have been voices calling attention to Trump's harm and great danger. Impeachment spurred many journalists to start speaking out more boldly. Right now, there are journalists making their case against Trump and mourning about the fact that fascism found fertile ground here in this country. But yes, some in the press are making sure that they are on record before the end of Trump's term.

Many journalists were frozen by the shock of Donald Trump and his attacks on democracy and other unprecedented behavior. And it kept getting worse. But that is another amazing element to this saga, which is that while so many people were assuming there would be a moment when Trump would hit bottom and bounce up to a higher level and come closer to the norm, it just never happened.

I can't tell you how many times I spoke to editors who said, "This must be as low as he can get. Time to publish that piece saying Trump has finally hit the bottom." But if you have never been abused yourself — I mean really abused by somebody powerful — you may not understand what is happening. You might not even know that people like Donald Trump exist and that there will be no bottom, no "bouncing up" to normal.

The dominant narrative about Trump's coup attempt is that it has "failed" and he is "incompetent" so there is no real danger. How can we better explain to the American people how dangerous Donald Trump really is, even at this late stage of his presidency?

If Donald Trump could be a military dictator, he would eagerly assume that role. For me, the best way of explaining Trump is that he does not share common reference points for what life is really about. Love is not one of his reference points. Service to others is not one of his reference points. Joy, as you understand it, is not understood by him. All he knows is the pursuit of power through dominance over others. Trump will achieve that dominance through whatever means are necessary. If it is violence, then Trump will use it. If it's the law, he'll use it. If it's mere persuasion, that's fine too.

And because Trump wants to conserve his energy, he will use the least powerful means first and hope that serves his goals. But again, Donald Trump is not the kind of human being most people are used to dealing with. The individuals who do know how to deal with and control people like Donald Trump are in law enforcement, perhaps in the national security establishment and in the mental health field, because Donald Trump is closer to a psychopathic mob boss than anything else.

Let's be even more direct for purposes of clarification. If someone came to Donald Trump, be it a hostile foreign country, a criminal organization, military generals or other powerful forces, and they told him that they have a plan to keep him in power indefinitely, would he say yes or no?

Trump would say yes in a heartbeat. Anyone who arrived in the Oval Office with a plan for keeping him there would get a long hearing. Other people in the White House would have to keep such ideas from becoming actions. Donald Trump becomes desperate quickly.

Even though he has so much money and power he still somehow sees life as a constant battle for survival. That Trump thinks about life in such a way does not compute for most people, because they do not understand that Trump is disturbed. Once you accept how Trump thinks and lives, then you realize, "Well, if a guy with his resources and no human values thinks of life as a desperate fight for survival, God help the person he deems a threat."

Why was Donald Trump not impeached by the Republicans? They have gotten their panoply of horrible policies enacted by his administration. Why not impeach him and move on?

Donald Trump was not impeached because the Republican senators fear him and the members of his cult. What is quite interesting is that I do not believe that a single United States senator was in the cult, or is in the cult now. But they do fear Trump's cult. Therefore, the Republicans will continue to pay attention to what Trump says because he is such an effective demagogue. Donald Trump is going to continue to go around the country with his crusades. He will be holding rallies in the states of senators who disagreed with him. If there is a primary challenger, that person will make the pilgrimage to see the Dear Leader Donald Trump. Trump will then give them his endorsement.

Trump is a genius at escaping accountability. He is also a genius at setting the scene for whatever drama is about to take place. His entire life has been devoted to convincing people to be afraid of him, as well as convincing people to see in him something of themselves. When he campaigned in 2016, Trump persuaded those who voted for him that he was one of them. He showed the members of the Senate, who were Republicans, why they should be afraid of him.

Once Trump is removed from office, what do you think he does next? Elsewhere you have suggested that he may actually have his own TV network and theme park.

I believe that if Donald Trump does not have his own TV network, he will have something close to it. His children will have media outlets of some sort as well. I also believe that there will be a Trump headquarters in South Florida, and it will become a destination location for members of his cult and people who will feel compelled to go to TrumpWorld every year. They will visit the Trump presidential library and stay in a hotel that looks like the White House where every bedroom is a Lincoln Bedroom.

Visitors will maybe catch a glimpse of one of the Trumps in the TV studio. There will probably be tours of the Trump Leadership PAC offices. There will be a theater in TrumpWorld as well. There may even be a small stadium. TrumpWorld will be some combination of a presidential library, Dollywood and Scientology's gold base, and Trump will rule over it all. It will be very lucrative for him.

There is a narrative out there that naively suggests that Donald Trump will be tried and convicted for his crimes and then be put in jail. Your response?

I do not believe that Donald Trump will be put in prison. I also doubt that he will be criminally charged. I think there will be a deal involving a lot of money that has already been put in the bank. Trump's followers have already donated it. I doubt there is anything to prevent him from using that PAC money to keep himself out of prison.

I do think that some Trump entities will disappear. There may be a fire sale on the golf courses. Someone may buy the licensing deals for the hotels and change the name. They may lose some of their assets. But in the end Donald Trump is not going to jail. Moreover, none of Trump's inner circle are going to prison either. He was not convicted after being impeached because he understands the weaknesses of the Republican senators.

In the end, Donald Trump will likely not go to prison because he understands the American tradition that stands in the way of putting a former president in prison. America has a sense of itself which will not allow a former president to be imprisoned. Like so many sociopathic people, Trump takes advantage of the decency of others, who cannot bring themselves to deal with him in the way that he deserves.

Top 10 reasons why making year-end lists won't save America

As always, the end of one year and the beginning of another is a time of lists.

There are "best of" lists for music, film, books, TV shows, video games and other aspects of popular culture "that mattered" in 2020, as deemed by the professional critics and others who supposedly have the elevated taste and habitus to make such pronouncements.

Other prominent voices, the gatekeepers, will proclaim that "these are the moments that mattered" in the year 2020 as they create a narrative for the year that was. Lists of that sort are a type of status-signaling — an exercise in social capital in which the truth rains down from the chorus of the elect onto the regular people below.

And of course, with Joe Biden (in all likelihood) being inaugurated on Jan. 20 and the Age of Trump in its present form mutating into some new monstrosity, there are lists of Donald Trump's foibles, most embarrassing moments and other low points. For those Americans and others smothered by Trumpism, in some cases literally, such lists are a way of celebrating his defeat. They function as a form of symbolic and temporary catharsis.

Ultimately, in this new year 2021, lists are being made by people everywhere. In their various forms they embody people's hopes, desires, promises, dreams, regrets and disappointments. Lists are also a way of maintaining control of one's life and destiny in the face of uncertainty.

The Age of Trump, with its resurgent fascism, white supremacy, violence, plague, death, attacks on democracy and civil rights and other forms of evil — and the larger social and political conditions that made Trumpism possible — is a world-historical event. There was a time before Trump and there will be a time after Trump, but Trumpism will be more than a footnote in modern American history. It will be the moment of a great pivot toward either the worst (another version of American fascism) or something much better (the beginning of a project of American renewal).

Whichever the outcome, lists collapse against the weight and meaning of world-historical events. How does one rank Trump and his regime's crimes against democracy, humanity, the environment and overall human decency?

Is the worst crime the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are dead because of the Trump regime's sabotage of coronavirus relief efforts? What of the many lives ruined and lifespans shortened, both directly and indirectly, through the resulting economic destruction and the Trump regime's willful negligence? How do we rank those horrors against the thousands of nonwhite migrants and refugees brutalized in Trump's concentration camps? What of the children stolen from their families (and likely to never be reunited with them) by Border Patrol and ICE agents? Where do we rank the Trump regime's empowerment of white supremacist and other right-wing extremists and their acts of political terrorism? Where on a list should we put Trump and his movement's undermining of American democracy and the common good? What of Trump and his inner circle's treasonous and seditious behavior, such as their ongoing coup attempt against the democratically expressed will of the American people? Should ranking the Trump regime's turpitude focus on the defamation done to the country's ideals and values, or the literal number of dead bodies and treasure lost and stolen?

Lists and other such heuristic devices are an attempt to assert one's agency, an effort to impose order or disorder. But the Age of Trump is not just one horrible thing, but many horrible things both overlapping and simultaneous.

At the Columbia Journalism Review, Jon Allsop writes: "History will surely view Trump's COVID fecklessness as among his very worst disgraces, if not his worst — yet for now, the suffering is so vast that it's hard to keep it adequately in perspective at all, let alone in terms of clear political accountability."

Quoted in a new essay at The Atlantic, sociologist Arlie Hochshild, author of "Strangers in Their Own Land," offers cautionary words about the true dimensions of Trumpism and the challenge ahead:

But the UC Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild believes that Trumpism is intimately tied — for now at least — to its namesake, because it exists beyond the logic of policy. It exists in the dreampolitik realm of feelings. "If there's one thing I think the mainstream press still gets wrong about Trump, it's that they are comfortable talking about economics and personality, but they don't give a primacy to feelings," Hochschild told me. "To understand the future of the Republican Party, we have to act like political psychiatrists."…
Hochschild is telling us that Trumpism is not just a garland of public-policy proposals that any other Republican can drape around his or her neck. And it is more complex than a personality trait, or a talent for saying mean stuff on Twitter. Rather, Trumpism is an emotional planet that orbits around Trump's star. Breaking the connection between Trump and the better part of the GOP will require either that Trump disappears (an unlikely proposition) or that a larger star emerges from the Republican backbench (also unlikely).
At the end of our conversation, I asked Hochschild what she's learned from the past four years. "I used to think of political identity as something more solid," she said. "I now think of political identity as like water that's always going somewhere, that needs to go somewhere, but where it goes depends on the lay of the land, the rock formations that stand in its way," she told me. She's still waiting to see where Trump moves the mountain.

To begin to properly make sense of the Age of Trump and its true dimensions will require critical distance and deep, slow thinking. This moment also demands that the full truth be revealed through public hearings, committees and other investigations.

To move forward properly, and to prevent another fascist authoritarian such as Donald Trump from taking power, the American people, in conjunction with responsible elites, must wring out every possible bit of truth from the soiled rag that is the Age of Trump.

Of course, some already want to cast that rag into the abyss of a memory well, never to be seen or discussed again. There will be many voices declaring that we must "let the past go," "heal and unify," resist "hysteria" or "forgive and forget." We will be told that President Biden is here to restore normalcy and it's time to "focus on the future."

At some point very soon and perhaps even on Inauguration Day, some pundit or other professional smart person who is a member of the "Church of the Savvy" will begin the work of "organized forgetting" by cannibalizing Abraham Lincoln's famous words: "With malice toward none, with charity for all."

That will not do. America needs a great reckoning to heal the damage caused by Trumpism and its followers, acolytes and leaders. That process will be time consuming. It will not be neat. In a country and society obsessed with speed, where selective forgetting and grand myths are core to the nation's character and political culture, there will be an enormous temptation to forget the Age of Trump almost immediately.

Thus, the compulsion by many Americans — especially those who are privileged because of their skin color and other identities — towards simple stories and superficial understandings of the country's past, present and future. Some future historian or other observer may well look back at these years and conclude that America's embrace of simple and easy solutions, in the service of organized forgetting, blinded it to the complex problems that would lead to the final downfall of a once-great democracy.

Trump's cabal of desperate conspirators is more dangerous than ever — but mainstream media tells us to move on

In the original "Star Wars" film — now known as "Episode IV: A New Hope" — Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker and the droids R2-D2 and C-3P0 are stopped by a group of stormtroopers, the elite troops of the evil Empire.

The stormtroopers demand to see Luke and Obi-Wan's identification. With a wave of his hand, Obi-Wan Kenobi uses the mystical power of the Force to dispel their suspicions. Without doubt or hesitation, the stormtroopers say, "You can go about your business. Move along." The heroes escape to continue with their mission. The stormtroopers behave as though nothing unusual has happened.

When Luke Skywalker asks Obi-Wan for an explanation, the wizened Jedi knight explains that the Force can have a powerful influence on the weak-minded.

In their efforts to downplay the dangers of Donald Trump's ongoing coup against democracy, too many members of the commentariat and other "professional smart people" are attempting to use a form of the Jedi mind trick on the American people.

Based on the lack of broad public outrage about Trump's continuing effort to overturn the 2020 election, it would appear that many Americans may in fact be vulnerable to such a ploy.

Over the last few days, the Trump regime's coup attempts have escalated into an ever more desperate and dire stage. The New York Times reported that a cabal of Trump's conspirators met in the Oval Office last Friday where they had a "discussion" about how to overturn the 2020 presidential election by invoking martial law, using a special counsel to invalidate the election, and seizing voting machines to "inspect them" for "irregularities." Of course, the intended result of any such "investigation" would be to manufacture Trump's "re-election."

It should have been the headline in every newspaper and other news media outlet in the United States. But it was buried on page A28 of the print edition of the New York Times, and was also not a leading story in the online edition.

Predictably, Trump raged on Twitter that there were no such discussions and this was all another example of "fake news."

Axios added this additional reporting:

A senior administration official said that when Trump is "retweeting threats of putting politicians in jail, and spends his time talking to conspiracy nuts who openly say declaring martial law is no big deal, it's impossible not to start getting anxious about how this ends."

"People who are concerned and nervous aren't the weak-kneed bureaucrats that we loathe," the official added. "These are people who have endured arguably more insanity and mayhem than any administration officials in history."

On Monday evening, the Washington Post also reported on Trump's cabal, observing that the president "has turned to a ragtag group of conspiracy theorists, media-hungry lawyers and other political misfits in a desperate attempt to hold on to power after his election loss." Trump's "unofficial election advisory council now includes a felon, adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory, a White House trade adviser and a Russian agent's former lover."

Once again, this report was not among the leading stories in the online edition.

Matters have become so serious that on Friday Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville felt compelled to issue a statement that there "is no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of an American election."

This is not the first time during Trump's reign that military leaders have publicly said they will not interfere in elections. As with most other things about Trump's presidency, such an announcement has no obvious precedent in American history.

Why have the chattering classes with a few notable exceptions, continued to minimize Trump's coup attempt?

It is easier to mock and deride the Trump regime's coup attempt as being "lazy," "failed" or "incompetent," or to describe it in some other liberal-schadenfreude language than to speak of an on-going national emergency. Likewise, calling Trump's coup attempt just a "grift" or a "con job" also minimizes the danger to the country and ignores the kleptocratic aspects of authoritarian and fascist regimes.

Moreover, it is comforting for the mainstream news media to bask in the glow of Joe Biden's victory and the absence of widespread of political violence and then to declare that democracy endures and Trump's coup attempt is a joke.

By necessity, such high-minded talk excludes Trump and his allies' efforts to suppress the votes of nonwhite people, slow down the mail and otherwise interfere with democracy.

Members of the "Church of the Savvy" and other hope-peddlers and stenographers of current events have an instinctive revulsion to speaking too much truth to power. As a group they have refused until very recently to accurately describe Donald Trump and his regime as being fascistic or authoritarian. Likewise, the mainstream news media and other public voices have been reluctant to state that Donald Trump is a compulsive liar. Instead, they have used euphemisms: The president "misspoke," or "distorted" or "misrepresented" the facts.

Despite abundant evidence, these same voices still refuse to consistently describe Donald Trump as a racist or a white supremacist. All of this reflects a desperate desire to return to perceived "normalcy," as embodied by the incoming Biden administration.

Part of this "normalcy bias" is a function of legitimate fear and anxiety, and an instinct for self-preservation given Trump and his movement's violent threats against reporters and journalists.

This is an example of "organized forgetting": The Trump regime and this version of American neofascism have traumatized not just the American people but many of the country's elites as well. Both groups, albeit in different ways, are deeply invested in reassuring fictions about our "healthy institutions" and "the democratic system." Thus, the compulsion to rapidly forget the horrors of the Trump regime and embrace the hopeful possibilities of the Biden administration.

In practice, this means that the rot in our civic, political, and cultural institutions that produced the Trump regime remains, but has been whitewashed over.

For the mainstream news media, this organized forgetting also involves a rewriting of history in which journalists did not consistently fail in their responsibilities as guardians of democracy by normalizing Trump's politically aberrant behavior, and by downplaying the threat posed to American democracy by his movement. As a practical matter, when the country's mainstream political voices finally started speaking some truth to power during the final months of Trump's first term, they sounded insincere. Where were those criticisms before? Why are they suddenly speaking up now, after Biden has been elected? What explains this sudden "courage," or the force of revelation about the dangers of Trumpism?

In many ways, the American media is stuck in a feedback loop of credibility failure, one which its leading figures largely created. The Age of Trump was merely a tipping point that exposed long-standing institutional problems.

As media scholar Eric Alterman observes at The Nation:

We know that our democracy is at stake and that the country may be on the precipice of significant political violence. If ever the mainstream media needed to shake its self-destructive addiction to false equivalence, now is the time....

Now those same network executives need to decide which side they are on: democracy or fascist rebellion. Network bookers should refuse to amplify the words of anyone who denies Biden's victory without immediately pointing out that that person is a liar. Nothing is "disputed." Nothing is "controversial." Nothing is "lacking in evidence." There is only truth or lies….

This should be simple. The news divisions of the major networks, together with CNN (and to a lesser extent, the liberal-branded MSNBC), have all sacrificed much of their credibility during the Trump presidency. They should welcome the opportunity to win it back.

Ultimately, the mainstream media's refusal to highlight the true danger of Trump's ongoing coup attempt, and the depths of the country's democratic crisis more generally, are a symptom of a much broader denial of truth in our society.

In his latest column for Scheerpost — republished by Salon — Chris Hedges warns:

One of the lessons I learned from covering wars and revolutions as a foreign correspondent is that the political, economic and cultural systems that are erected by any society are very fragile…. We cannot use the word hope if we refuse to face the truth. All hope rooted in self-delusion is fantasy. We must lift the filter from our eyes to see the danger before us. We must heed the warnings of our own prophets. We must destroy the centers of power that lure us and our children, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, to certain doom. The walls, daily, are closing in around us. The radical evil we face is as real under Trump as it will be under Biden. And if this radical evil is not smashed, then the world ahead will be one of torment and mass death.

There is less than a month remaining before Joe Biden becomes president of the United States. These next weeks, however, will be some of the most unpredictable and dangerous in the country's history. As time winds down for Donald Trump, he and his cabal will become even more desperate, dangerous and destructive. Like other authoritarians and fascist leaders, Trump will attack the country and its people as revenge for being "disloyal" to him.

The American media in this moment of crisis can choose to tell the truth, which may at least help to prepare the public for the struggle necessary to reclaim the country's democracy. Or it can remain in denial about the long struggle ahead to rehabilitate our democratic institutions and public life.

The first choice could also begin to address the American news media's crisis of legitimacy. The second will make that crisis exponentially worse.

Mental health expert explains how to survive the ongoing emotional abuse of the Trump era

Donald Trump has been abusing the American people for at least four years. The abuse is physical, through Trump and his administration's willfully negligent response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has now killed more than 300,000 Americans. In addition, Trump has encouraged political violence against his perceived enemies, including Democrats, antifascists, Black Lives Matter activists, journalists and others.

The abuse is financial. Trump and the Republican Party have enacted policies — both before and during the coronavirus pandemic — that have severely harmed the economy, worsened social inequality and diverted huge sums of the public's money to the very richest individuals and corporations. Trump and his party's policies have resulted in record unemployment and job losses, rampant hunger and poverty, and millions of Americans living under threat of eviction and homelessness.

The abuse is emotional. Trump and his allies have caused the American people to suffer a type of collective post-traumatic stress disorder. Trumpism as a society-wide emotional and mental pathology is also shown by the way Trump's "white working class" supporters (and even more so his non-white followers) manifest a form of Stockholm syndrome in which they identify with the abuser and "love" his mistreatment of them.

In the 2020 election, Trump was soundly defeated by Joe Biden. But like other abusers, Trump will not stop his cruel and vile behavior. Moreover, the American people's decision to "break up" with him has caused Trump to rage and become even more abusive.

Trump has attempted a coup against democracy and the American people, and has amplified his use of stochastic terrorism and other incitements to political violence. Even after Trump (likely) leaves office next month, he will continue to claim that he is the "real president" of the United States and interfere with the normal functioning of government and society whenever and however he can.

In all probability, Donald Trump will continue to be a menacing and nearly omnipresent figure in American life, culture and politics for years to come. He is America's very own authoritarian stalker.

How can the American people escape Trump, and begin to heal from his reign of terror and abuse? To explore that I recently spoke with Dr. Seth Norrholm, whom I have interviewed twice before. He is a translational neuroscientist and one of the world's leading experts on PTSD and fear. He is currently the scientific director at the Neuroscience Center for Anxiety, Stress, and Trauma (NeuroCAST) in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. Norrholm has also contributed several essays to Salon, co-authored with clinical psychologist Alan Blotcky and others.

In this conversation, Norrholm argues that the combination of Trump's emotional and other abuse is a chronic stressful event that will have health impacts on the American people for years into the future, and that the Republican Party, the right-wing media and Trump's followers have been enabling this ongoing abuse of the American people. He warns that this abusive pattern, in combination with the mass death of the coronavirus pandemic, may lead to a form of survivor's guilt among the American people, which will require national mourning and intervention.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

Donald Trump and his regime have also afflicted massive and traumatic stress on the American people, so it is not surprising that we are collectively dealing with PTSD, anxiety and depression. Even after leaving office, Trump is still going to be a large presence in American life. Using the traumatic stress, abuse and PTSD model, what happens when the abuser refuses to leave the victim alone but continues to harass and stalk them, as Trump is likely to do for years to come?

Unfortunately, that is the case with many abusive relationships. There will be some type of formal legal action taken, such as a divorce or restraining order. There will be some attempt by the abuser to push the boundaries of the restraining order, for example. That can involve physical stalking or online stalking. They may make a dummy account to track and stalk their target online as well. The relationship is formally dissolved, but the abusive elements still remain.

Now, if we think of Trump as being in an abusive relationship with the American people, this is unique in the country's history. He is soon to be the former president. Assuming things go as planned, Joe Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20. Those elements of the election and transition of power are akin to the formal process of ending a relationship legally.

But with the president of the United States, there's a lot of continuation there. He's still referred to as "Mr. President," he still gets a security detail, and a lot of the perks and benefits of having served in the office. We've never really had to confront a continuation with a malicious president. What do we do as a country with someone like Donald Trump who is so pathological, so evil and so corrupt? With a former president who has those traits, and still quite a bit of symbolic power in the country and world?

Abusers will continue to claim that the victims are in a relationship with them even when it is over. They often claim their former partners as a type of personal property. Donald Trump is going to do this by claiming that he is still the "real president" and that Joe Biden is illegitimate and a fraud.

That is part of the alternate reality that abusers and malignant narcissists create for themselves. It is an example of gaslighting and the other forms of lying intended to get the abused person to the point where they begin to doubt themselves. They ask, "Am I crazy, or is he crazy?" The victim can become disoriented in terms of their core identity.

Donald Trump is trying to maintain an alternative reality by stating, "I am the president." There are a few ways to understand what Trump is doing there. First, I do believe he is a con man and a grifter. The longer he keeps up this fight, the more money he can generate. Regardless of his apparent psychopathology, Trump has the ability to seek wealth, power and adulation. Second, he fears exposure both legally and as a fraud. That is why he keeps up his alternate reality.

What is unusual about this situation is that there are 74 million people, Trump's voters, along with his party, his cabinet members and others, to help keep Trump in his alternate reality. There are so many enablers for Trump and his delusions. That is very different from the typical domestic abuse situation. Trump has a team of "surrogate abusers."

The worst thing one can do for a malignant narcissist or an abuser like Donald Trump is to tell him or her that they are correct or to otherwise validate the lies and false persona. Because then not only is this person pathologically telling themselves how special they are and how superior they are, but they have an echo chamber that is telling them the same thing.

Clinical work and other research show that the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is the end. That is when there is likely to be an escalation of some sort. This is when the abuser is most likely to be their most volatile.

What has Trump and his allies' emotional and physical abuse of the American people done to us collectively?

The last four years with Donald Trump have been a major chronic, continuous, stressful event. It has created a state of anxiety and unpredictability that was present on almost a daily basis. That is different from a typical PTSD case, where a person can identify one or more discrete events that happened in their life and from which there are post-traumatic consequences. An example would be a combat veteran who was hit by an IED or a motor vehicle accident victim who survived a deadly crash.

Those are distinct events. Therapeutically, a clinician would try to isolate that event for the patient, to point out that the likelihood of experiencing something like that again is quite low, for the most part. We help the patient to better see reality. There are ways to work through and process that type of post-traumatic situation.

Trump's time in office and what he did to the country is very different. One has to recognize that the source of the persistent state of stress is not going anywhere anytime soon. Now, what are we as a society going to do with that problem? I believe that there need to be task forces comprised of experts in domestic violence and mental health and other medical professionals. Their job would be to do community outreach.

Some specifics as to what Trump and these years with him have done to the American people: There are adverse psychological, physical, and cardiovascular problems; gastrointestinal problems; appetite, diet and sleep problems. Trump and his stress have likely caused new addictions, as well as caused people to relapse. Such problems are increased with a chronic stressor.

Suicidal ideation has likely increased under Trump. Combine that with the COVID pandemic and the country is going to be struggling with a psychological tsunami of problems that will need to be addressed.

Donald Trump and his time in office will be studied for years to come by social psychologists as well as mental health professionals. It is a textbook example of a pathocracy, and how a society can be manipulated into collective anti-social behavior by a pathological leader. As an example, consider Trump's recent rally in Georgia, which In so many ways was a crystallization of his evil and dark charisma. As an expert on mental health and neuroscience, what did you see at that event?

It was a confluence of psychological phenomena. There was the psychopathology and disordered personality of Donald Trump on full display for an hour and 40 minutes. But the crowd also demonstrated the cult dynamic that exists between Trump and his followers. Trump likely could be diagnosed with several personality disorders. Beyond any specific one, it is safe to say that his personality as a whole is disordered. At Trump's Georgia rally, he showed his grandiosity, his sense of superiority and his disdain for people he views as inferior.

Do not overlook how Trump's grandiosity is attractive to his followers. It is appealing, like a drug for them. That is part of the collective narcissism where Trump's grandiosity spills over onto his followers, who are then empowered, in some cases, into becoming reckless, violent and aggressive.

The mindset is, you're either with us or you're an enemy. From a cult perspective, it is either all or nothing in terms of reality and loyalty. And there were, of course, literally hundreds of lies told by Trump at the rally.

As part of Trump's god complex and his followers' feelings of shared omnipotence, he is offering the cult members a type of promised land. Trump's promised land is a White America in which there are no immigrants, everyone is rich and there is no racial diversity. As part of the shared omnipotence of Trump's cult, members are told that they must not stray from the flock or oppose him or criticize him — because if they do, they are out, the relationship collapses. Trump's power over his followers is extreme.

What role did the coronavirus play at Trump's rally in Georgia? That event was a literal death cult meeting, in which where people were not wearing masks during a deadly pandemic.

Outright denial. Not believing that the threat is real. Ignorance. But Trump used an interesting cult tactic here. He told his followers that the coronavirus was nothing to fear, then he got it and recovered (without highlighting the extraordinary care and treatment he received) and as such "demonstrated" to them that if they get it, nothing really bad will happen. Moreover, it's a reinforcement of the idea that the cult leader will protect me and all will be fine.

For those Americans who have survived the pandemic and the other horrors of Trump's time in office, will they experience some type of survivor's guilt?

Absolutely. There are going to be a significant number of people in this country with survivor's guilt, which is the idea that somebody did not survive, and I did, and then trying to reconcile why that is. In addition, there will be a large number of people who will continue to masks in the future because they are hypersensitive to this trauma. I believe we will also see more people becoming "preppers" because of the pandemic and all the death, stress and isolation. One of the things that will need to happen, in terms of healing from Trump-related PTSD and the pandemic, is some type of national closure.

I believe the best way to accomplish that is to have an annual national day of remembrance. There should also be a monument constructed on the National Mall as a reminder of the losses from the pandemic, and also a warning and symbol of not forgetting the political and social factors that led to this disaster. We cannot let this disaster disappear from the public consciousness.

Two vaccines for the coronavirus have already been approved and are being distributed. Will Trump's followers agree to be vaccinated?

In a cult, logic does not matter. Consider that at first Trump was calling it a hoax. Then he was talking about miracle cures. Then he started talking about a vaccine. Trump has taken his followers all the way from, "This thing doesn't exist," to "We'll have a vaccine out to you shortly," a feat of true mental gymnastics. In cult psychology, a logical pattern is not necessary. If Donald Trump is delivering the message, there does not need to be any logic for his followers to listen to him.

Harvard psychiatrist explains Trump's deepening paranoia and why he'll live in 'fantasyland till the day he dies'

Contrary to what the hope-peddlers and other members of "the Church of the Savvy" would like the public to believe, none of this is normal or ultimately "harmless". Everything is not OK.

Donald Trump and his allies are continuing with their efforts to nullify the results of the 2020 presidential election and Joe Biden's victory. Trump's attacks on democracy are a de facto coup attempt which includes not just "legal" tactics but intimidation and threats of violence. Last Saturday night, dozens of Trump's unofficial paramilitaries surrounded the home of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

Instead of properly reporting on the unprecedented attempts by a United States president to usurp the will of the American people in order to remain in power indefinitely — and the larger strategy by the Republican Party to create a new American apartheid – too many in the mainstream news media are looking ahead to the Biden administration and convincing themselves that by ignoring or minimizing Trump's attacks all will somehow be fine in January.

On this, Jack Holmes writes at Esquire:

Meanwhile, those preaching calm over the last few weeks have not merely ignored the guiding principles of the Trump era: never assume there is a bottom to the shameless depravity, and never bet against that shamelessness being rewarded. …

It is also straight out of the strongman playbook to put a number of hare-brained schemes in motion, hoping that at least one will play out in such a way that you can profit off the chaos. But yeah, everybody simmer down. The important thing when witnessing the wild behavior of an authoritarian leader, cornered and desperate, is to be the most Calm and Savvy observer. Don't you know about The Laws?

Such behavior testifies to the fourth estate abandoning its role as truth-tellers and guardians of democracy but and instead becoming dispensers of happy pills and placebos. Reporting on the palace intrigue of Trump's Kremlin on the Potomac in the aftermath of the 2020 election is part of the distraction and denial, a type of joyous schadenfreude by liberals, progressives and others who oppose Trump and his regime's evil and have been made to suffer by it.

As such, it has been reported that Donald Trump is despondent, falling apart mentally and acting like an American Mad King; that he is ranting and raging as aides try to keep him under control, and decompensating as TrumpWorld supposedly implodes.

For example, in his much-discussed New York Times feature "Trump's Final Days of Rage and Denial," Peter Baker reports:

Moody and by accounts of his advisers sometimes depressed, the president barely shows up to work, ignoring the health and economic crises afflicting the nation and largely clearing his public schedule of meetings unrelated to his desperate bid to rewrite the election results. He has fixated on rewarding friends, purging the disloyal and punishing a growing list of perceived enemies that now includes Republican governors, his own attorney general and even Fox News. ...

The final days of the Trump presidency have taken on the stormy elements of a drama more common to history or literature than a modern White House. His rage and detached-from-reality refusal to concede defeat evoke images of a besieged overlord in some distant dictatorship defiantly clinging to power rather than going into exile or an erratic English monarch imposing his version of reality on his cowed court.

Earlier reporting by the Washington Post echoes Baker's account:

The facts were indisputable: President Trump had lost.

But Trump refused to see it that way. Sequestered in the White House and brooding out of public view after his election defeat, rageful and at times delirious in a torrent of private conversations, Trump was, in the telling of one close adviser, like "Mad King George, muttering, 'I won. I won. I won.' "

However cleareyed Trump's aides may have been about his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, many of them nonetheless indulged their boss and encouraged him to keep fighting with legal appeals. They were "happy to scratch his itch," this adviser said. "If he thinks he won, it's like, 'Shh . . . we won't tell him.' "

These details are likely all true. What they describe is a national and global state of emergency. But such behavior must be located properly, relative to Donald Trump's ongoing coup attempt and other attacks on democracy by his allies and followers.

Trump has publicly shown himself to be not just mentally unwell but perhaps even a sociopath or psychopath. Sick leaders attract sick followers. Sick leaders also amplify the various mental and other pathologies of their followers and inner circle. Sick leaders channel and therefore worsen the most unhealthy and unjust aspects of a given society. In all, Trumpism is a type of collective social and civic disease spreading throughout America.

How long will Trump be able to exist in his own reality? What will happen when and if Trump's fantasies are destroyed? Is Donald Trump more or less dangerous after the 2020 election and Joe Biden's victory? What do the accounts of Donald Trump's increasingly aberrant behavior following Election Day reveal about his coup attempt and likely behavior in the future?

In an effort to answer these questions, I recently spoke with Dr. Lance Dodes, whom I have interviewed on several previous occasions. He is a retired assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a training and supervising analyst emeritus at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

Given the election and its aftermath, with President Trump continuing to deny reality and refusing to concede, and the myriad of events as the United States awaits Biden's assumed inauguration in January, how are you feeling?

I think Trump must be thinking about financial stability, the lawsuits that are going to come down the pike. It's also in his interest to claim that he didn't lose so that he can have a group of followers who believe in him, versus a country that is against him for all the deaths he caused and everything else, and because he needs to have people stay in his hotels and buy his steaks and whatever else he's hawking. He'll also need that for public support when he's called into court for all his crimes.

How does someone with Trump's personality and his many emotional and mental pathologies process defeat? Especially defeat on such a grand stage? Do they just create their own universe in their mind and deny reality?

It would be devastating if he allowed it, that's the delusional quality of it. It's always been confusing because Trump doesn't wear tinfoil on his head and think that he's getting messages from Mars, so people think he's not delusional. But he is delusional at the core, because he can never accept reality that is unacceptable for him. Normal people, we all have losses. Trump doesn't have losses. So he denies it. When it comes down to it, if you push him hard enough, which is what has happened, then you see the delusional core of it. It has all the qualities of a delusion.

Donald Trump is the same man he was before he lost to Joe Biden on Election Day. If anything, Trump is now behaving worse. Trump is remarkably dangerous. But as a function of the desperate yearning for normalcy, many people in the news media and the public just want to make fun of him and call him a buffoon. Which may be true, but nonetheless Donald Trump and personalities like him are very dangerous — and they are not going to stop being dangerous because people mock them.

I've objected to saying that he's a clown because that misses the point. Clowns are funny and harmless. He is anything but harmless. If our country's democracy were as weak as Germany's was when Hitler took power, it would have been the end of democracy here as it was in Germany in 1932.

Is Donald Trump more dangerous now than he was before the election?

As long as he's president, until Jan. 20, he's still dangerous. Once he's out of office, he becomes your average psychopath. He will continue to abuse workers and not pay people, and he will continue to foment as much trouble as he can. The last thing he would want is a successful Biden presidency, so he will try to cause as much trouble as he can. But once he's out of office, I don't think, for example, that he's going to be able to cause riots in the streets. However, until he's out of office, yes. For years, I and others have been worried about his creating a Reichstag incident, a crisis that would give him an excuse to remain in power, or at least leave a warlike situation in Biden's lap. I think those days are still with us.

How successful he will be is not clear to me. There was a real chance that he could have stolen the election by having the Electoral College stacked the way he stacked the Supreme Court. He could still try to ruin the relationship with Iran for Biden, or do almost anything else to make the next presidency look bad.

When someone like Donald Trump is defeated, do they collapse inward, experiencing some type of breakdown? One cannot overlook that Trump believes he is a god. He needs narcissistic fuel. After he is forced from the presidency, will Trump just live in a fantasy world of his own making?

I think that Donald Trump will continue living in fantasyland until the day he dies. His life is about making sure the truth doesn't hit him. I could see him for example going to jail — but then, in his jail cell, claiming that this is more proof of how he's been treated unfairly. His paranoia is never going to go away. It's always somebody else's problem. Trump is not only the innocent victim, he is the saintly victim.

It appears that Donald Trump is not loved by anyone. Based on his public behavior it seems as though there is no one close to him who will tell him, "You're embarrassing yourself! Have some dignity, man!"

I do not believe that Donald Trump loves anybody. To love somebody means to appreciate them as a separate person, for who they are, and for their life to be important to you, separate from your own. That's why people sometimes are willing to die for other people. Trump can't do that. One proof of that is his total absence of loyalty. As soon as somebody challenges him, he says, "You're my enemy." If you are not supporting him, if you are not revolving around him, if you are not part of him in a sense, then you're the enemy. There's no recognition of other people as separate centers of initiative who can be valued. Their only value is what they do for him.

If a person is not capable of loving others, are they capable of having a healthy love for themselves? One would think that a person with healthy self-love would exit the public stage gracefully: "This is done. Let me walk out of here with some dignity."

I do not think that Donald Trump has healthy love for himself. His pathological narcissism indicates an emptiness inside. It's not that he loves himself; it's that he needs to protect himself against his enemies. His grandiosity is a reflection of needing to be great because there's nothing else there. Healthy self-love means there is something there, and you love the thing that is there: You admire yourself, you like yourself, you have things about yourself that you think are good. Trump doesn't have any of that.

The Washington Post and the New York Times are reporting that Donald Trump is in the midst of a breakdown of sorts. He is despondent, delusional, lashing out, planning revenge. As a mental health professional, how do you make sense of these reports?

There was nothing surprising in them. Trump is a very simple man psychologically. Normal people are complicated. I think anybody who understands him was able to predict this, and can predict the future as well, which is why we're worried. The fact that all he cares about is preserving his own personal power and worth — and his sadism and wish to hurt anyone who challenges him is well-known. What I found actually much more interesting is how the people around him are dealing with that. Many of the Trump supporters have been willing to sacrifice what is right in order to curry favor from Trump and add to their personal power. Now that it's no longer in their personal interest to support him they are jumping off the ship. But leaving now doesn't undo their moral failure. They've already said something indelible about themselves.

How do you think people in the future will make sense of the Age of Trump and all its horrible events?

The public, especially all those people who are not particularly informed and who can be pushed either way by whatever is the prevailing norm, will come back to what we used to consider "normal" — at least outwardly sharing American ideals about democracy and decency. In my opinion, the new norm will be to say that Donald Trump was a fascist and he almost took over America. What were we thinking? Trump is a wakeup call that Americans are not different from other people and there will always be a substantial number of people in this country who, when feeling "cheated" and "unheard," will fall again for a fascist leader if we do not address the underlying problems of the country.

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